Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Shedding identity one piece at a time

It’s a still warm Fall morning and we’re curled on his couch holding our coffee cups.

Me: I want to try monogamy, but I’ve never done it before.  I don’t know how to do it.

Him: I’ve done it before.  You’re not allowed to have sex with other people, and you’re not allowed to flirt with other people, and you’re not allowed to kiss other people…”

Me: That’s a lot of not alloweds.

We chat some more in those one-step-removed terms you use with someone you like a lot but are only just getting to know.  You know the way that lets you both maintain plausible deniability – answering the question “are our wants compatible” without asking the question “do we want to do this together.”  Our wants seem compatible, so that’s nice.

Here’s the funny part though.  All those not alloweds, sure, sounds like there’s a lot of them, but weirdly, I’m not bothered by them.  Six months ago I poked my head back into the theme of am I poly.  And then I spent a bunch of time thinking about it, and chatting about it with people, and thinking some more. A couple of themes started to emerge:

1) Poly people, despite having a huge diversity of relationship styles, were a lot more defined than monogamous people.  Poly people told me that what I described wasn’t monogamy.  Monogamous people told me about their compromises (a genteel word for any flirting, kissing, or even sex that may or may not happen outside of their monogamous marriages).

2) I started seeing all sorts of little (and huge) ways that poly was not about autonomy, but rather about the partner with more power leveraging that power to direct the course of the relationship.  I started seeing poly people give their previously monogamous partners “my way or the high way” ultimatums and realized I’ve been guilty of this myself.  I started noticing how people treat and talk about non-primary relationships, and wondered if these secondaries really don’t mind you only seeing them for sex on the 3rd Tuesday of every month, or if maybe they are just taking the best they can get?  And really, is the 3rd Tuesday of the month the best they can really get, or are they/their community selling them short?

3) I realized that I really want very little to do with other people’s relationships.  Maybe I’m exhausted.  Maybe I’m a natural at this monogamy thing, but one thing I hadn’t realized is how personally invested I have been in other people’s relationships.  Not in a good supportive way, in a social policing way.  That…that’s not something I feel good about.  It sorta makes sense that I’d figure that out now, after all, poly and kink are both outward facing identities as much as they are personal practices.  Being monogamous sounds like the kind of thing my partner and I would decide on, and, well, no one else really needs to be involved, do they?

Most importantly though, I am learning to think about what I do want, not what I don’t want.  And I am creating space for the reality that I was very happily poly for most of my adult life.  It worked, and it was lovely, and it was a choice I made and was blessed with partners who did that with me.  I would simply like to make a new choice now.  One where I don’t have to schedule around my partner’s other girlfriend or try to balance the needs of two lovers.  One where minimizing opportunity costs is no longer something I’m concerned about because my goal is to find the right person for this particular moment of the journey and then focus inward.  Focus on nurturing that relationship, in all of its nuance, through a journey that makes sense for both of us.  Plus with only one lover, there might be enough time to finish my knitting projects!

So yeah, I probably won’t be “allowed” to sleep with other people, but the funny part is that two things changed since I started thinking about this: 1) that suddenly doesn’t sound restrictive, and 2) I let go of my own fear of being the ball and chain putting artificial boundaries on my partner out of some sense of insecurity, and saw this for what it is: asking for what I need.

Early this year I thought the theme was “what 2012 giveth, 2013 taketh away.”  Happily, I’m learning that the theme of 2013 is shedding the things I thought I was so that I could dig a little deeper and figure out who I am now.

Written by kinkinexile

October 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Posted in headspace, personal

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